Sudan: Sharing The Pain

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July 6, 2012:  South Sudan’s oil production suspension continues, despite the economic harm it does to South Sudan’s budget. In January, South Sudan began shutting down oil production as a means of protesting Sudan’s exorbitant oil transportation fees. Sudan was seeking from 25 to 35 percent of the per barrel price of oil. South Sudan called this theft (which it is) and said, "Okay, if you’re going to wage economic war on us, we’ll wage it on you." In other words, South Sudan said it would put the gun to its own financial head as well as Sudan’s. The South Sudanese strategy has had economic effects on the north and it now has political effects. Sudan has had to cut its national budget. The proposed austerity budget spurred student protests in Sudan. But the south is suffering as well. The south’s annual inflation rate is now over 70 percent and the value of South Sudan’s currency has plummeted. South Sudan is surviving on international aid and some loans against future oil sales. It is also pushing for a strategic solution: new pipelines that ship the oil through friendly Kenya, rather than Sudan.

July 5, 2012: The two Sudans resumed peace talks in Ethiopia. The main issues under discussion are what South Sudan should pay to move oil through Sudan's pipelines, who is a citizen each country, borders demarcation, and the status of the disputed Abyei region.The UN and AU (African Union) will impose sanctions on both countries if these matters are not resolved by August 2nd.

July 3, 2012: Sudanese police and special security officers continue to confront protestors in the capital of Sudan. The riot police fired tear gas at student demonstrators in another clash near Khartoum University. Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) agents also arrested an Egyptian journalist. The Egyptian reporter was later released. Sudan goes to great lengths to keep its relationship with Egypt friendly and stable.

July 2, 2012: The Sudanese Army announced that it intends to launch a new round of attacks on Darfur rebel groups who have not agreed to peace talks. The announcement follows claims by the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-Minnawi and SLM-Abdel Wahid) that they had attacked a military convoy in South Darfur state. (See June 26 report.)

July 1, 2012: The Sudanese government claimed that “Zionist institutions inside the United States and elsewhere” (the phrase can mean Israel but usually means people who oppose us) were trying to escalate anti-government protests in the capital. The government said that the protestors and their supporters were trying to create an Arab spring revolt in Sudan.

June 29, 2012: Sudanese security forces once again battled anti-government demonstrators in Khartoum. The demonstrations have now gone on for two weeks. Human rights groups estimate at least 1,000 demonstrators have been arrested by the government. A group calling itself Sudan Change Now, reported that students conducted an organized march in Khartoum and the march was broken up when police attacked with tear gas and riot batons. The group also claimed that the police are also conducting preemptory raids to keep protestors from assemblying. It’s a tactic designed to intimidate political opponents and would-be demonstrators, but it also has a media aim. If large crowds cannot collect, video of large crowds calling for the downfall of the regime won’t show up on YouTube. So far it has worked. The crowds in Khartoum have not reached the size of those that gathered in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011.

June 28, 2012: South Sudan and Sudan once again failed to reach a border demarcation agreement. They also failed to agree on a buffer zone between their military forces. It appears both sides think that if they reach a buffer zone agreement the other side might claim that it sets a precedent for a final border settlement. There is also disagreement over who controls one specific area in the proposed buffer zone. Mediators, however, are trying to sell the buffer zone as an interim solution. It would certainly make inadvertent ceasefire violations less likely. Mediators call the buffer zone the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ). 

June 26, 2012: The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), acting as part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), claimed that its forces attacked a Sudanese Army convoy near Al Malam in South Darfur state. The SLM communiqué said the rebels seized 65 vehicles in the attack. 

South Sudan reported that the Ethiopian Army had captured the spiritual leader of a Jonglei state tribal group which opposes disarmament. The spiritual leader, Dak Kueth, and two hundred of his followers had fled to Ethiopia. Kueth heads a Lou Nuer tribe youth militia. The South Sudan government claims that Kueth has recruited militiamen in Ethiopia. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA, South Sudan’s military) has some 15,000 soldiers in Jonglei state who are involved in the disarmament program. The government is trying to remove weapons from warring tribal groups.

June 24, 2012: The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) announced that it will begin a phased reduction in uniformed personnel within the next 18 months. UNAMID peacekeeping mission now deploys 5,511 armed policemen, 17,364 soldiers, and 591 military observers.

June 23, 2012: Several hundred people joined student demonstrators in Sudan's capital to protest against the current government. Protests have also occurred in the Sudanese city of Omdurman. The protests began when students at Khartoum University objected to education budget cuts by the government. The northern government said that a loss of oil revenue means it must impose an austerity budget. Most of the Sudan’s oil fields are now in South Sudanese territory. South Sudan has shut down its oil production rather than pay Khartoum exorbitant transportation fees. The Sudanese government is clearly concerned that the protests will energize other opposition groups. The National Consensus Forces (NCF) is attempting to act as an umbrella political group for Sudanese opposition political parties. The NCF claimed that government security forces are arresting its members in Khartoum. The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which operates primarily in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, praised the protestors and said that it would declare a ceasefire as soon as Omar al-Bashir’s dictatorship fell.

June 21, 2012: Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) forces fought with the Sudanese Army outside the village of El-Fragil (South Kordofan state, near the town of Dilling). SPLM-N forces are moving toward the town of Dilling. The Sudanese Army confirmed that its forces had fought near El-Fragil but were in the process of clearing rebel forces from the region.

June 19, 2012: The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) continued to argue with the Sudanese government over how relief aid will be distributed in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The SRF does not want government forces delivering the aid. Sudan claims that the SRF intends to steal the food and medical aid.

June 16, 2012: Students at Khartoum University staged a protest against government budget cuts. The austerity measures affect a range of programs, including education.

June 13, 2012: South Sudan said that an international arbitration court in The Hague, Holland, should settle its border demarcation conflict with Sudan. Sudan immediately rejected the suggestion. South Sudan claimed that the north has demonstrated that it is unwilling to reach a permanent settlement, despite signing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

 

 

Article Archive

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